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Desktop Virtualization Explained

Think two operating systems are better than one? You're in luck.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the September 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Virtualization, or running more than one instance of an OS on a single computer, is already big news in servers. It's just a matter of time before it finds its way into more mainstream PC applications.

Apple has generated interest in a somewhat similar concept by letting users also run Windows on their Intel chip-equipped Macs. But that process requires shutting down one OS and then starting up the other. For a more seamless experience, virtualization company Parallels has introduced Parallels Desktop for Mac. The $80 program lets users run Windows simultaneously from within an Intel-based Mac OS.

Businesses are the most likely candidates to adopt desktop virtualization. "This would be especially useful for IT businesses--those [that] develop and test software applications for multiple systems--or internal IT staff that need to support multiple OSes for their employees. This will also help businesses that currently avoid using multiple OSes because of the cost or limited space," says Anil Miglani, senior vice president of New York City-based research group AMI-Partners. Miglani also sees benefits in setting up dedicated partitions that keep security software separate and safe from tampering. Virtual employee desktops set up through thin clients is another application that could help entrepreneurs reduce their IT costs. "Businesses can derive immediate benefits by using PC virtualization," says Miglani.

Many companies are bringing desktop virtualization to a wider market. Intel, Microsoft and VMWare have been busy advancing server virtualization and are actively moving the technology over to desktop uses. "Vendors have already started marketing PC virtualization. Initial uptake among businesses is in specialized segments, and it'll be at least two to three years before we see any significant penetration," says Miglani. If your business involves IT development, you might want to look into virtualization for your PCs.

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